Wilson, August

Wilson, August
born April 27, 1945, Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.

U.S. playwright.

He was largely self-educated. A participant in the black aesthetic movement, he cofounded and directed Pittsburgh's Black Horizons Theatre (1968), published poetry in African American journals, and produced several plays, including Jitney (1982), before his Ma Rainey's Black Bottom opened on Broadway in 1984. Inspired by the colloquial language, music, folklore, and storytelling tradition of African Americans, he continued his cycle of plays, each set in a different decade of the 20th century, with Fences (1986, Pulitzer Prize), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988), The Piano Lesson (1990, Pulitzer Prize), Two Trains Running (1992), and Seven Guitars (1996).

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▪ 2006
Frederick August Kittel  American playwright (b. April 27, 1945, Pittsburgh, Pa.—d. Oct. 2, 2005, Seattle, Wash.), chronicled the African American experience with a cycle of 10 plays, one set in each decade of the 20th century. Compared by critics to both Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, Wilson used a variety of styles in his work, incorporating music, evocative language, and rich characterization to capture the atmosphere of his childhood neighbourhood in Pittsburgh's Hill District. His first major play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984), was praised for its portrayal of racism in the 1920s blues scene. The only one of Wilson's plays to be set outside the Hill District (it takes place in Chicago), it marked the beginning of his collaboration with Lloyd Richards, whose 1959 production of Raisin in the Sun was the first Broadway play to have been directed by an African American. Richards went on to direct Wilson's next five plays, and the two reestablished the once-common system of debuting plays at regional theatres and refining them prior to their Broadway openings. Wilson's father-and-son drama Fences (1986) swept the Tony Awards, winning in every major category. It ran for more than 500 performances, with James Earl Jones in the lead role, and established Wilson as a major Broadway force. He went on to receive a record seven New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards and seven additional Tony Award nominations for best play. He earned Pulitzer Prizes for Fences and The Piano Lesson (1990), the story of a Depression-era family's attempts to exorcise the ghosts (both literal and figurative) of slavery. Wilson's other plays included Jitney (1982), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988), Two Trains Running (1992), Seven Guitars (1996), King Hedley II (1999), and Gem of the Ocean (2003). In 1999 he received a National Humanities Medal for his work and for his commitment to the promotion of black theatre. His final play, Radio Golf, opened in May 2005 and concluded the cycle with the tale, set in 1997, of the gentrification of the Hill District.

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▪ American dramatist
original name  Frederick August Kittel 
born April 27, 1945, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
died October 2, 2005, Seattle, Washington
 American playwright, author of a cycle of plays, each set in a different decade of the 20th century, about black American life. He won Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1986) and for The Piano Lesson (1990).

      Named for his father, a white German immigrant who was largely absent from the family, he later adopted his mother's last name. Wilson's early years were spent in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a poor but lively neighbourhood that became the setting for most of his plays. Primarily self-educated, he quit school at age 15 after being accused of plagiarizing a paper. He later joined the black aesthetic movement in the late 1960s, became the cofounder and director of Black Horizons Theatre in Pittsburgh (1968), and published poetry in such journals as Black World (1971) and Black Lines (1972).

      In 1978 Wilson moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and in the early 1980s he wrote several plays, including Jitney (2000; first produced 1982). Focused on cab drivers in the 1970s, it underwent subsequent revisions as part of his historical cycle. His first major play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, opened on Broadway in 1984 and was a critical and financial success. Set in Chicago in 1927, the play centres on a verbally abusive blues singer, her fellow black musicians, and their white manager. Fences, first produced in 1985, is about a conflict between a father and son in the 1950s; it received a Tony Award for best play. Wilson's chronicle of the black American experience continued with Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1988), a play about the lives of residents of a boardinghouse in 1911; The Piano Lesson, set in the 1930s and concerning a family's ambivalence about selling an heirloom; and Two Trains Running (1992), whose action takes place in a coffeehouse in the 1960s. Seven Guitars (1996), the seventh play of the cycle, is set among a group of friends who reunite in 1948 following the death of a local blues guitarist.

      Subsequent plays in the series are King Hedley II (2005; first produced 1999), an account of an ex-con's efforts to rebuild his life in the 1980s, and Gem of the Ocean (first produced 2003), which takes place in 1904 and centres on Aunt Ester, a 287-year-old spiritual healer mentioned in previous plays, and a man who seeks her help. Wilson completed the cycle with Radio Golf (first produced 2005). Set in the 1990s, the play concerns the fate of Aunt Ester's house, which is slated to be torn down by real-estate developers. Music, particularly jazz and blues, is a recurrent theme in Wilson's works, and its cadence is echoed in the lyrical, vernacular nature of his dialogue.

      Wilson received numerous honours during his career, including seven New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards for best play. He also held Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships. Shortly after his death, the Virginia Theater on Broadway was renamed in his honour.

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  • Wilson, August — (n. 27 abr. 1945, Pittsburgh, Pa., EE.UU.). Dramaturgo estadounidense. Fue en gran medida un autodidacta. Formó parte del movimiento estético negro, cofundó y dirigió la compañía Black Horizons en Pittsburgh (1968). Además publicó poemas en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Wilson — /wil seuhn/, n. 1. Sir Angus (Frank Johnstone) /jon steuhn, seuhn/, 1913 91, English writer. 2. August, born 1945, U.S. playwright. 3. Charles Thomson Rees /tom seuhn rees/, 1869 1959, Scottish physicist: Nobel prize 1927. 4. Edmund, 1895 1972, U …   Universalium

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  • august — augustly, adv. augustness, n. /aw gust /, adj. 1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama. 2. venerable; eminent: an august personage. [1655 65; < L augustus sacred,… …   Universalium

  • August — /aw geuhst/, n. 1. the eighth month of the year, containing 31 days. Abbr.: Aug. 2. a male given name, form of Augustus. [bef. 1100; ME < L Augustus (named after AUGUSTUS); r. OE Agustus < L, as above] * * * (as used in expressions) Arrhenius… …   Universalium

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  • August Wilson — August Wilson, eigentlich Frederick August Kittel (* 27. April 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; † 2. Oktober 2005 in Seattle) war ein US amerikanischer Dramatiker und Bühnenautor sowie zweifacher Pulitzer Preisträger. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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